We cannot open a newspaper, turn on our computer, or flip through our feeds, before we find that someone has lied about something. Lying is both ubiquitous and consequential—but why do we lie?
Science says we learn to deceive as toddlers. We rationalize the fabrications that benefit us. We tell little white lies daily that make others feel good.
In one study, 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation, saying an average of 2.92 inaccurate things.
Psychologists say, most lies are tied to self-esteem: as soon as someone feels a little bit threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels.
I think we lie for a few reasons:
- We want to both look good when we are in the company of others.
- We want to maintain a view of ourselves that is consistent with
the way they would like us to be.
- We don’t want to hurt people with bad news or information.
Whatever the reason, a lie today will have major consequences tomorrow.
If you’re in a powerful position or leadership role in which people look up to you, you’re expected to lead in integrity and truth. If leaders lie, how can they ever be trusted?
In my leadership coaching, one of the most important things I teach my clients, is the remarkable power of being the truth teller and what it takes to speak with candor:
A truth teller will communicate and not hold back. Communicate, communicate, communicate. That’s the role of a leader. If you hold back, people will know something’s going on, and they’ll fill the gap with gossip, paranoia, and suspicion—wreaking havoc on the culture of your organization. Be the leader who tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
A truth teller will create a culture of candor. Instead of blaming others when things go wrong, look for solutions, and create an environment where people feel it’s OK to mess up and make mistakes. Cultivate an environment in which owning up to your mistakes is OK, and it’s safe to fail. the best way you can lead your people is to provide them with the resources they need to do their jobs well.
A truth teller eliminates barricades. As a leader, you have the power—and the obligation—to get rid of anything that prevents people from performing at their best. Keep processes and policies down to a minimum and make sure they don’t keep people working harder and not smarter. Eliminate any barriers that keep people from telling complicated or unwelcome truths. Celebrate the truth by speaking the truth as their leader.
A truth teller models high standards. Set the standards high and people will work hard to reach them. That means no bullies, no racism, no intolerance, no deceivers, no cheat—and you keep those standards by meeting them yourself. Make truth a consistent part of our own leadership and business, and others will follow.
A truth teller gives us reasons to be better than we are. When things are bad or difficult or stressful, our initial reaction is to hide and withhold. But the remarkable power in telling the truth is to let people know they can be part of the solution, and they can be part of something bigger than themselves. As a leader you can provide them with a compelling vision that gives them reason to be better than they are.
Lead from Within: Great leaders are remarkable truth tellers. They know that honest hearts produce honest actions.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.